Waco – Evidence has surfaced through a public information act request that the McLennan County Jail medical staff was aware of a previous suicide attempt by an inmate who later hanged himself at the privately operated Jack Harwell Detenction Center on Nov. 1, 2015.
According to a memo from Captain Ricky Armstrong to former Jail Doctor John Wells, members of the medical staff made an inadequate effort to see to it that staff members of LaSalle Corrections medical staff knew of the danger Michael Martinez presented to himself when they transferred him to the Jack Harwell Detention Center.
“I was told we failed to note a recent history of suicide attempt…” Armstrong wrote to Dr. Wells on Nov 5, following Martinez’ death.
A state jail inspector named Jackie Semmler “informed me that the Jack Harwell Detention Center was placed into administrative non-compliance today due to violation of jail standards that were found…” in the hanging death of Martinez.
He further noted that, “TCJS (Texas Commission on Jail Standards) will be reviewing our files when they come for our inspection.”
The failure to comply was due to a failure to make a note on a standard uniform health status form that the previous suicide attempt had taken place. In addition, there was a failure to deliver an electronic copy of Martinez’ jail medical records to go with the hard copy of the file.
“If we have one file that we send to JHDC and we do not provide a hard copy and an electronic copy, we will fail our inspection,” Armstrong wrote.
McLennan Sheriff’s Office arrested three guards employed by LaSalle corrections later that month when an investigation showed Martinez had been hanging in his cell for 3 hours, but falsified records showed that they had checked on him within the half-hour time frame required.
Martinez was reportedly alone in his cell when he died of asphyxiation caused by hanging by a piece of cloth.
Sheriff Parnell McNamara announced that Milton Walker, Christopher Simpson, and Michael Crittenden had each been charged with tampering with government records.
According to the Texas Constitution, no matter who operates a jail, the County Sheriff is responsible for supervision of prisoners at the county jail, as well as to serve writs and processes of the courts, seize property after judgment, and enforce traffic laws on county roads.
LaSalle Corrections guards Milton Walker, Christopher Simpson, and Michael Crittenden